Hundreds of people showed up at Blossom Cemetery to say goodbye to Dustin Kay

  • Dustin Kay. Courtesy Kay family File—

  • Dustin Kay was remembered as someone who loved fishing, his motorcycle and spending time with friends and family. Courtesy Kay family

Monitor staff
Published: 6/4/2022 3:51:10 PM

Sometime during the past 20 years or so, Dustin Kay latched onto his older brother’s hip for the very first time.

Then he rarely let go.

Maybe that’s why Mikey Kay wore so many hats on the day Dustin’s urn was buried. He hugged nearly every person in a huge crowd waiting near the main entrance at Blossom Hill Cemetery on Saturday.

Then, when it was clear that the burial was deep inside the cemetery, past narrow, serpentine roads, he instructed everyone to get back in their cars and led them to the site.

It was a sad day. Mikey said that on May 13, Dustin crashed his motorcycle into a stone wall in Wolfeboro and died. The cause of the crash is unknown. Dustin was 21.

Mikey then transformed into the primary planner, organizer, greeter, speechmaker. He fought tears all morning. His hugs always included a back slap that could be heard yards away.

“My best friend,” Mikey said by phone the day before the funeral. “We always played soccer together and we were always outside and riding 4-wheelers together. When we only had one, he rode on the back of mine.”

Their five-year age difference created the perfect formula to connect them. The mentor and the student. But in this case, because they were both in their teens, a sprinkle of learning and discipline was always followed by tons of fun.

And Dustin liked to have fun, according to the people who gathered at the Holiday Inn after the funeral for a celebration of Dustin’s life. There, photos showed Dustin during his time in the Army in Texas.

There’s also one from 12 years ago, showing grade-school-aged Dustin leaning his head left, onto big brother’s right shoulder, smiling with comfort and pride.

Dustin’s sister, Heaven Kay, is 44 and used to babysit him. She went to his youth soccer games. She last saw him at the Lake Winnipesaukee Fishing derby last winter.

“We had an awesome time,” said Heaven, who lives in Nottingham. “He’d be out in a snowmobile and spinning on the ice. He was his own person. Very carefree.”

And he smiled a lot. That’s one of the first descriptions made again and again inside the cavernous ballroom at the Holiday Inn, complete with a full bar, desserts and cheese and crackers.

Ben Normandeau grew tight with Dustin through Rundlett Middle School and Concord High School. They were Concord High jocks, playing football, or baseball, or soccer, or lacrosse. They rode motorcycles together, went fishing, threw a Frisbee around.

He recalled the hilarious sight of Dustin, who was 5-foot-11, about 230 pounds, riding on his little Harley-Davidson Sportster.

“He looked huge on it,” Normandeau said. “We went out in March, the first time out, and it was freezing, and I wore three layers and he wore jeans and a T-shirt. He just loved to get out and have fun.”

Matt Benton of Loudon served in the Third Infantry and retired after 22 years. He was the commander at American Legion Post 1631, where he met Dustin’s mom, Diane, and later befriended Dustin.

Dustin served two years in the Army and spent his time stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. Benton and his wife attended Dustin’s graduation at Fort Benning in Georgia last year.

“Happy-go-lucky,” Benton said, “whether we were shooting darts or just shooting the breeze. He always had a glowing smile.”

At least 250 or 300 mourners jammed Blossom Hill on a humid morning. Cars were everywhere, parked on each side of the narrow strip of road near the burial site, leaving a tight squeeze for anyone trying to drive past.

Dustin’s sister, Michelle Goodwin, read a speech that mentioned her brother’s all-consuming bear hug. “I wish I had a chance to say goodbye,” she said near the end of her speech.

The gold-covered urn sat on a table nearby, covered with green artificial turf and surrounded by flowers. The Color Guard’s three-gun salute caught mourners by surprise, a few snapping their necks around to see what had spooked them.

Taps followed in near silence, beyond a few sniffles now and then. Two Guard members folded an American flag into the traditional triangle, tucking it tightly with precision Betsy Ross would have loved.

The flag was handed to Diane Kay, Dustin’s mom, seated up front on a folding chair. Then Mikey knelt before the box-shaped opening in the ground and gently placed his brother and best friend into his final resting place.

Another green covering was pulled aside, revealing a pile of dirt and sand. One by one, mourners cupped their hands together, scooped up dirt like a shovel and let it fall from their hands and between their fingers.

Then a sliver of light worked its way through the sadness.

“Let’s get this party started,” Mikey said. “Shall we?”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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